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You Could Have It So Much Better

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Album Review

Opting not to fix what broke them, You Could Have It So Much Better serves up more of the stylish, angular sound that worked so well on Franz Ferdinand's debut. After years of rehearsing in abandoned Glasgow warehouses and playing in relatively obscure groups like the Yummy Fur, it's perfectly understandable why the band chose not to mess with a good thing — and why they chose to follow up the breakthrough success of Franz Ferdinand so quickly. But, after a year and a half of near-instant acclaim and constant touring, Franz Ferdinand return with songs that just aren't as consistently good as the album that made them so successful in the first place. A lot of You Could Have It So Much Better feels like a super-stylized caricature of the band's sound, with exaggeratedly spiky guitars, brooding crooning, and punky-yet-danceable beats. This isn't an entirely bad thing: "The Fallen" begins the album with a wicked, gleeful welcome back that embraces the jaunty mischief running through most of Franz Ferdinand's best moments, while "I'm Your Villain" effortlessly nails the darkly sexy vibe they strived for on Franz Ferdinand. Meanwhile, the famous friends, arty parties, and "shocking" homoeroticism of "Do You Want To" — which feels more like a victory lap than a comeback single — play like knowing, tongue-in-cheek self-parody. However, too many tracks on You Could Have It So Much Better are witty and energetic in the moment but aren't especially memorable. "You're the Reason I'm Leaving," "What You Meant," "This Boy," and the oddly anti-climactic finale, "Outsiders," are Franz-lite — not at all bad, but not as good as even their early B-sides and certainly not up to the level of "Take Me Out." What helps save the album from being completely predictable are slower moments like the pretty, jangly "Walk Away" and atmospheric, piano-driven songs such as "Fade Together" (which really should've been the final track). Best of all is "Eleanor Put Your Boots On," a gorgeous, Beatlesque ballad that suggests that if Franz Ferdinand have songs this good in them, they're selling themselves, and their fans, short with most of the songs here (you could have it so much better, indeed). Not so much a sophomore slump as a rushed follow-up, You Could Have It So Much Better probably would've been better if Franz Ferdinand had waited until they had a batch of songs as consistent as their first album, but as it stands, it's still pretty good.

Customer Reviews

Franz is magic

of the two albums franz has released, this one is my favorite. i think there are only about 2 songs on this album that i dotn like, and for someone as picky as myself, that is saying something. i cant stop listening to "the fallen" "do you want to" "walk away" and "eleanor put those boots back on". they are somewhat beatlesque in the sense that they are originally awesome and eternally fabulous. I cant wait for there third album to be released. go franz!

Maybe you could have it better, but do you really want to?

Franz Ferdinand does not make sounds that are overly immaculate. They sound like raw information from their brain to your ears, whether it follows their industry given genre or not, and that's why the fans love them. You get a vast variety of musical sounds on a Franz Ferdinand album, from the not completely uncharacteristic, but still surprising, potentional-guilty-pleasure pop sound of "Do You Want To" to the timeless ballads of "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" ad "Fade Together". Of course, "The Fallen" and "What You Meant" should not be left out as highlights of the album, although each song equally shows the band's ability to make you mull over the exact meaning of the continually smart lyrics to an embarassing degree, AND tap your foot to the ever-catchy beats at the same time (maybe also to an embarassing degree). There's no point in comparing Franz Ferdinand to any of the past or present bands (though I'm sure some of the listeners' comparisons would make the band members blush with flattery): FF is in a music box all of its own, and if the sounds of their sophmore album are being properly translated, they're going to stay that way.

Delightful and original British pop group

Pros: It's songs like "The Fallen," "Walk Away," "You're the Reason I'm Leaving," and even the relatively easy-going "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" that renew my belief that the pop scene still has some original and interesting elements. They are easily re-listenable again and again; they have a wonderful blend of catchy dance rhythms, lyrics that don't sound horribly idiotic, and also a kind of sweetness underneath the 'angry young man' beats. The lead singer Alex -- and this group as a whole -- evoke a feeling of sixties' and seventies' British punk movements (think Malcolm McDowell singing "Singin' in the Rain" in "A Clockwork Orange" or Lindsay Anderson's anti-establishment boarding school movie "If...") that lends the album a nostalgic feel, while still remaining modern enough to interest audiences today. All in all, if you are any sort of fan of British rock, you will not find this album a waste of time. Cons: None so far!


Formed: 2001 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Glasgow's art-damaged rock quartet Franz Ferdinand -- named for the Austro-Hungarian Archduke whose murder sparked World War I -- feature bassist Bob Hardy, guitarist Nick McCarthy, drummer Paul Thomson, and singer/guitarist Alex Kapranos. In late 2001, Kapranos and Hardy had begun working on music together when they met McCarthy, a classically trained pianist and double bass player who originally played drums for the group despite no prior experience as a drummer. The trio had been rehearsing at...
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